A scene design process as exemplified by designing for A view from the bridge
Hoffer, Heidi Finch
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The purpose of this creative thesis is to demonstrate the scene design process used in the spring 1981 O'Connell Theatre production of Arthur Miller's A View From the Bridge. The first step of the process involved research of the historic locale, period, and economic structure of the situation in the play. The results aid in understanding the playwright's intent and choice of locations. The script must also be analyzed for its basic requirements of scenery, properties, lighting, sound, and action. Research included internal analysis of the script: forming a synopsis, extracting theme(s), style, turning point and climax, and character analysis. These results aid in understanding the playwright's purpose and its expected impact. An assemblage of the designer's reactions and thoughts of the internal and external research is made for the purpose of creating a workable, understandable production concept. The assemblage and production concept aid in communication with the director, lighting designer, and costume designer, and provide a focus for the creative process of the scene designer. From the beginning, production limitations such as time, budget, facility, experience level of personnel, capacity of the scene shop, equipment, and stock, act to shape the design. The final section deals with the designer’s reflections on these considerations and their affect on the design. Following agreement on basic concepts, thumbnail sketches were made and discussed. Preliminary renderings and ground plans were made and discussed. Certain elements of the design were kept and others were modified or changed to form the final design rendering and ground plan. Working drawings were then made and the construction process began. The designer in this case was the technical director and in that capacity, the designer saw to it that practical and aesthetic changes were made smoothly yet provided the effect originally intended. Upon completion of the design process, the designer assessed the design in terms of the original concept. The results were favorable in that the original ideas of entrapment and insecurity were evident in the cold, blood-like colors, the ordinary but haunting neighborhood, and tight blocking patterns elicited by the acting spaces.